McHENRY – A proposal to open up a shooting range that would operate in conjunction with a sporting goods retail business on Route 120 received city approval Monday night.
In spite of reservations from some City Council members, the council voted 5-1 in favor of the use variance request to allow the indoor shooting range for the general public at 3705 W. Elm St., which is also Route 120.
Bertram Irslinger currently operates Second Amendment Sports at 409 Front St. The licensed firearms business sells and trades guns and offers some safety training but does not have a shooting range.
“My hope is we’ll be up and running in six months,” Irslinger said.
Currently, Eckel’s McHenry Flea Market is using the Elm Street property, also known in the community as the former Sullivan Foods building. Irslinger recently entered a contract to purchase it.
The retail store will take up half the 16,000-square-foot building, with the other half functioning as an indoor gun range.
Alderman Andy Glab, who cast the lone vote against the variance, raised concerns about Irslinger’s lack of experience operating a shooting range.
But Irslinger said he has been shooting at ranges for more than 40 years and intends to establish a “five-star shooting range” in McHenry.
“This range will cost in excess of $2 million to build,” Irslinger told the council Monday night.
In addition, gun ranges must abide by federal and state regulations that have “dramatically” raised safety standards in recent years, he said.
Still, Glab took issue with the location.
“I don’t like the location,” he said. “I don’t like how close it’s to schools, I don’t like how close it’s to residential areas.”
The property falls in the retail and commercial category under the city’s comprehensive plan. Landmark School lies about 300 feet from the property’s southeast. To the west are Alex’s Restaurant and Locker’s Flowers; to the south, off Third Street, is Mr. Don’s Cleaners. And directly south of the property lies a multi-unit residential area.
In April, the council approved a use variance for a members-only tactical shooting range at 5002 W. Elm St.
Elm Street, also West Route 120, is an area city officials have targeted for economic revitalization.
Alderwoman Geri Condon also shared her reservations, but ultimately decided the business would benefit the community in terms of its economic potential.
“That particular property is a challenge for any viable business,” she said. “ ... It’s a challenge. As a parent I wouldn’t want (the gun range) there, but that’s the emotional side of it.”